Murder of Crows: An Excerpt

Marigold Andres Uy

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Here’s another 8Letters book that will be released soon: Murder of Crows. This fantasy adventure novel was written by Marigold Andres Uy, co-founder of 8letters Bookstore and Publishing.

Blurb:

In a world where it’s ‘kill or be killed’, Knox had lived his life with blood on his hands. Killing others meant living longer than anyone and for Knox and the rest of the boys in the Mythmire Shack, it has become a job that fed them every day. With a Kingdom that encourages the slaughter of Coordinators, Knox knew he had to find a way to stop the mistreatment of his kind. Armed with his genius planning and a secret that he had kept since he was young, he will rise up and lead his own army. He will fight the Kingdom’s current monarchy, even at the cost of his own life.

Chapter One

t was a normal day: gray clouds, smoke, and the salty breeze from the sea that surrounded the district. Knox lied on his stomach on the rough cemented roof. He felt the trigger of his gun and trained his eyes around the area below him, ready to attack his target. There was a glint in his eyes, a hint of excitement. Today’s commission was worth thrice as much as his regular jobs. That meant they could upgrade their cabin and add an extension. The bar could also need some refurbishing.

But that also meant there were probably others who got the job from the request board. The target was one of the quaestors from Ernridge District. He tortured the son of a rich aristocrat into admitting a crime he supposedly didn’t commit and sentenced him to a lifetime in prison. Knox doubted the son’s innocence anyway, but money’s money. And a job’s a job.

“No hard feelings.” He mumbled, aiming as the man in question went out of the Ernridge Penitentiary Office.

But then, something happened. It was fast. It all happened in a blink of an eye. There were many people on the streets, but there was definitely one of them who stabbed him on purpose. It wasn’t clear who, as people had already mobbed the bloody figure of the tall old man.

Knox scrambled to his feet and raced down the stairs, heart beating fast, a crazed smile on his face. Whoever did that was bloody awesome. He reached the front of the penitentiary, tried to excuse himself among the crowd but they just seemed to be growing.

“Neat, isn’t it?” Someone spoke and he whipped his head back at the owner of the voice. He knitted his brows. The boy was young, maybe sixteen, but the grin on his lips was familiar, almost the same as his. His eyes glinted with danger, in amusement, and in success.

“You’re the one who killed him.” Knox said as if it wasn’t still obvious.

“It’s called misdirection.” The teen said, playing with the curved dagger in his hand. “Neat, huh?” he repeated. “They’d go back to their own minds later on.” He pointed at the crowd behind Knox. “Not now. But long enough so we can watch him draw in his last breath without anyone helping him.”

“A Coordinator, huh?” Knox gulped. He never thought he’d see one around again. The last one he saw was taken in by the capital, forced to fight another one of their kind, forced to kill each other. He chuckled, “Interesting. I’m Knox. What’s your name?”

He laughed. “Seth. It’s the first time I’ve seen you in this area, Mr. Knox.”

“Ah, Knox is fine.” He rubbed his neck and grinned. Before he could talk again, Seth pulled him away from the crowd and ran. “Where—?”

“Shh.” Seth turned to face him, a finger on his lips. “The mobbing effect will be gone in a moment. Let’s get out of here before they find out about us!”

The realization dawning on him, he gained speed and pulled Seth instead, toward the canals that connected to the river. “Do you have somewhere you could stay and hide?”

“No.”

“What?” Knox turned to look at him, aghast. He clicked his tongue and held him in a firmer grip. “Fine, let’s go to our place.”

“It’s okay.” He thought to himself. Anyway, should he go on a rampage there and cross one of their members, it should be easy to kill him, considering there’s just one of him. He groaned and stopped at the edge of the bridge. A barge carrying the day’s goods from Herforth Town toward the Islet Market was about to cross.

He turned to Seth, “You scared to jump?”

The younger lad shook his head. “Not at all.”

He nodded. “Alright, on my mark.”

As soon as the boat was halfway through, he whispered his signal and both of them jumped down, landing on the sacks of flour below. Knox sat up first, rubbing his back. “Phew. The operator probably won’t notice us. You okay?”

Seth hummed. “So far.”

Knox sighed, closing his eyes. There goes his money. He only got the job because their place needed the money. And then he remembered, “What did you mean back there, when you said you didn’t have a place to stay?”

“I just don’t have one. I used the money from my commissions to buy food most of the time. This is probably the lowest I could get but that’s okay, I guess.”

Knox’s eyes widened. “Lowest?” His mind screamed. The reward money the aristocrat offered in the bounty was a whopping thousand grants and this kid tells him that it’s the lowest he would receive?

Seth leaned back on another sack of rice and stretched his arms. “Those who personally hire me who would sometimes offer thrice as much. The one who made that bounty is probably a cheapskate. I only got the offer because I thought it’d be fun.”

“Thrice?” Knox blinked. That’d be three thousand grants! If he could get that much money per bounty, he could probably have expanded the shack’s second floor and the bar could have sold more kinds of beer and food! His mind racing, he then blurted, “Do you want to join our group?”

“No.”

Knox’s breath caught on his throat. “Ah—” He was speechless and taken aback. “Of course.”

“But if there’s free food, then I might consider it.” Seth chuckled and stood on the sacks. “I think we’re back in Grayhelm.”

The elder lad hummed. “Ah, I mean, yes there’s free food. And I might as well add that Theo is the best cook in our group. What do you think?”

“What’s the catch?”

Knox stopped the urge to bite his lip. The kid was smarter than he thought. He sighed. If he lied, there’d be chance that Seth will find out about his plan and he wasn’t really that adept at close range combats. He had skills but it seemed to him like this guy is an expert with knives.

“I guess you’ve heard of the Mythmire Shack, right?”

“Uh-huh.” Seth flicked his dagger. “Heard that’s where some bounties are posted around this area. Like the board in Southfort.”

Knox nodded. “We can offer you a place to stay and food to eat.”

“In exchange for a percentage of my bounties, am I right?” Seth licked the flat side of the blade, before throwing it in the air and catching it. “What do you think we have a bet first?”

“A bet?”

“Yeah.” He turned around, “If you win, I’ll join you and give you half of what I earn. But—”

“Fine,” he huffed. “If you win, you can kill me.”

Seth’s brows rose. “Really? You’ll bet that much for money?”

“Hell yes, I will.”  Not only did he needed money for his business, he needed the money to go back to the capital and kill the King and save his best friend from being used as a puppet in one of their fights. At least, that’s his plan.

“Alright.” Seth shrugged, pocketing his dagger. “I heard there’s this new, high-paying bounty at Southfort. Wanna bet on that?”

Knox gulped but nodded. “Let’s go.”

Murder of Crows LitArt Publishing Featured Image
Murder of Crows

The Southfort Village is home to normal-living criminals. While its residents were mostly thieves and murderers, the people seemed to have this unwritten rule never to steal or kill anyone among them. They could, however, be hired to kill others.

When a job required a skill that wasn’t in any of their fields of expertise, they forward the request to the chief, whose officials then post on the board at the village square.

A few people were looking for requests at the board when Knox and Seth arrived. The former noticed that, when they walked toward to take on a request, the others stepped back to give them space.

“Ah, wait a sec.” Seth turned back. “Gotta claim the money, you know?” He grinned and waved a hand at him before disappearing into the two-story hall.

Bringing his attention toward the board, he scanned the list of requests made and saw the highest reward written at the middle of the list. His eyes widened. “Five thousand grants!” And the request was to kill a senator. He clicked his tongue. Not the easiest job again. Killing the quaestor wasn’t easy either anyway.

Senators were people who were second closest to the king, next to consuls. Whoever requested this job was probably a lunatic. But if he’s willing to pay five thousand grants for it, he’s probably some influential man too. This was probably one of those in bitter pursuit for power. And the requestor was doing it the easy way.

He felt a sudden chill behind him and he whipped his head back.

“So, what are we going up against?” Seth waved at him.

“Holy shit.” He gulped. As a killer, he trained himself to have better hearing than anyone, but he didn’t even notice Seth coming up behind him. The kid was an assassin too but he was on another freaking level. He forced a chuckle and pointed at their target. “Five thousand.”

The others close to where they stood gasped. He heard whispers and jeers. They’d never make it alive. The request was probably a joke.

“Damn, it probably is.” Knox bit his inner cheek.

“Alright, let’s get that.” Seth shook with anticipation. He got a pen from one of the drawers beside the board and signed his name beside the request. “There.”

Knox got the pen from him and wrote his name too. “Right. Let’s get the info from the desk.”

Seth chuckled. “I wonder how I would kill you after.”

“Don’t be so sure you’d win this, kid.” Knox glared at him. “I have everything on my shoulders gambled for this one.”

They filed for the bounty, with the chief of the village asking if they were sure about their decision. “You’re too young to die for this silly request.” The old man shook his head.

“We can do this.” Seth cheerfully waved his hand. “Right, Mr. Knox?”

The older teen pursed his lips and nodded. The old chief probably saw through him and turned his back. “You still can turn that down.”

“No.” Knox breathed in and huffed. “I’ll do this.”

The chief gazed at him, forlorn eyes already mourning for his decision. “Suit yourself.”

As they went out of the Southfort Village Hall, Seth’s features darkened, and a crazed grin tugged at his lips. “Well then, good luck~” He finally said with a sing-song voice.

Didn’t that left you hanging and eager to read the rest of the book? Get your copy here.

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